Visicalc co-founder offers a modest proposal

In this essay the part of the Bells in our present debate is played by a collection of sidewalk owners, or as they prefer to be called Transport Service Providers. You pay them for the privilege of walking, and they decide where you can go.

Essential to the open source argument is the idea that the basic infrastructure of the information age is just that -- infrastructure -- and the public interest demands it be treated as such.

This argument is generally accepted in the software arena. It is at the heart of the Internet, which is why the net neutrality battle is so hard-fought. And it is making inroads in radio, where the 802.11 frequencies are among the most heavily used in the electromagnetic spectrum.

What stands in the way of all this are the Bells. They insist that the phone lines built under regulated monopoly are "theirs," that no one else (OK, maybe a cable franchise) should be providing that service, and that they should be allowed to use their monopoly power for their own private enrichment.

Into this argument steps Bob Frankston. The Visicalc co-founder has written a satire, in the tradition of Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal, called Paying by the Stroll.

In this essay the part of the Bells in our present debate is played by a collection of sidewalk owners, or as they prefer to be called Transport Service Providers. You pay them for the privilege of walking, and they decide where you can go.

It's great amusement, although he's no Jonathan Swift (who is?). Still, for the present argument, it'll do.

Newsletters

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
See All
See All